About 35 baby elephants have been torn away from their mothers in Zambabwe, Africa for exportation to Chinese zoos.
The Times has reported that the calves, some young as two years old, are currently held in pens at Hwange National Park as travel crates are being prepared for their 7,000-mile transport.
Exportation of elephants to Chinese zoos from Zimbabwe started in 2012, despite strong opposition from other “African countries, elephant experts, and non-government organizations,” stated Humane Society Organization.
An exlusive footage captured by Humane Society International back in October 2017, capturing the situation of 14 young elephants bound for exportation, showed they were beaten and kicked as they were sedated for an easy move to the Hwange National Park by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.
Zimbabwe minister of environment Oppah Muchinguri Kashiri said “We are happy that young African animals have been well accommodated here in China. We are willing to export more in the years to come to help the preservation of wild animals,” in her recent visit to the safari park in Guangdong, China.
However, many activists said the exportation of elephants to China were not for their welfare nor protection, rather it was to improve elephant sales in Zimbabwe.
People.com reported that more than 108 baby elephants since 2012 were sold to China for $40,000 each, which is also deemed legal by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of wild fauna and flora, “because of, in part, China’s promises not to use the animals in any performances and to work on cutting down the use of ivory in traditional Chinese medicine.”
Despite the legality of the exportation of baby elephants to China, many elephant experts and animal welfare advocates believe it is better for the animals to stay in Zimbabwe. Seven out of eight baby elephants died during the trip to China, while some died since their arrival, according to the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force.
“They haven’t learned their lesson,” task force chairman Johnny Rodrigues told Quartz. “To do what they are doing is inhumane and it’s wrong. We should be looking after these animals in Africa.
African elephants are listed threatened species in the current International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) with over 500,000 left in the wild.